"Retailers are not being disrupted by other retailers, retailers are being disrupted by technology.

More than 22 years ago, our team had the incredible foresight to know how important online shopping would be in the future. Developed in the days before web browsers, floppy disks, and dial-up internet, our first days of online shopping were considerably more humble than the service we offer today.

Today’s customer is empowered, armed with technology smartphone they are taking control of their shopping experience. And they’re ready to Google search anything either from your store or that of your competitor.

Consumers today are also inundated with choice, information and the ability to get what they want when they want it - whether it is from here or overseas. Retailers today need to move away from traditional retailing and start embracing technology to become true digital retailers of the future.

The next five years in retail will be more affected by technology that has been the case over the last 50 years. Voice technology is already disrupting the industry and will continue to change the way we shop in the very near future.  Amazon Echo is already on the market in New Zealand and the reality is a home computer, similar to Siri on your phone, could soon be running your entire life.  From playing your favourite song as your morning alarm, reminding you of your days' scheduled meetings through to helping you cook dinner with recipe inspiration and instructions.  You’ll also be able to sort out the daily shopping list and order the food you require directly from the supermarket without you even having to touch the keyboard.

You only have to look at the power of the smartphone and a cashless society that is already a reality in China to know that technology is impacting retailers faster than Amazon is within our own market.  Alibaba is expanding Hema, their latest chain of cashless supermarkets in China. Shoppers use their phones to pay for their food much like Amazon Go but the big difference is that Hema is a supermarket that concentrates on the freshest produce but it also has a chef and a restaurant on site. Customers can make a purchase in-store and have it sent to their home within 30 minutes of purchase, either fresh or cooked and ready to eat. Alternatively, they can shop and choose their own produce which is then cooked and eaten at the supermarket in the restaurant within the store. Or, whilst enjoying their dinner in the supermarket, a personal shopper can be packing and collecting the rest of their shopping in reusable bags and have it waiting at their door at home before they even finish their dinner.

For now, we remain focused on giving our customers the best shopping experience.  This means continuing to respond to their changing needs, whether that is via an online experience or within a physical store.  Both are equally important and their experience of both should be positive and seamless."

By Dave Chambers, Managing Director, Countdown